Blogging the Word: 2 Timothy 1:1
I've decided to blog through Paul's 2nd epistle to Timothy. Today's post is the first in that series. I'm motivated to do this because I think it will help me to read and understand the letter more clearly if I write about it as I go. Because, let's face it, sometimes we read well, sometimes poorly. Sometimes as we read our minds wander here and there, and still we read on mechanically, uncomprehendingly, even while our thoughts are far away from the printed page. That's me. I suspect it's you as well.
I'm going to move slowly, a verse or two at a time, posting my comments and questions as I go. I am no Bible scholar, no well-trained exegete. These will simply be the thoughts of a reader. The goal is to read well. To read with understanding. As a "people of the Book," this seems like a worthy goal for us all.
BTW, I choose to begin with Paul's second letter to Timothy, simply because it happens to be next in my Bible-reading plan. Here's the opening verse:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus...Now, every NT reader probably knows that, in ancient correspondence, it was the normal procedure for the letter-writer to introduce himself right at the start. The ancient reader thereby always knew, from the very first words, who it was that had written the letter.
Put yourself in Timothy's shoes. The letter is from Paul. Paul, his father in the faith. His mentor, who almost single-handedly brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul, the prisoner. Paul, the old man. Paul--we will soon learn--cold and alone.
The imprisoned Paul writes a letter to the younger Timothy, whom he thinks of with the love of a father. "Paul, the apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God." Yes, that Paul. And nothing could be more certain that his apostleship was, indeed, by the will of God, for no one knew that better than Timothy. And then we read this: "according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus." Paul's apostleship is in accord with--in line with--consistent with--the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.
How quickly Paul blows open the mundane etiquette of letter-writing to immediately let mighty things enter in. The promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus. What is he talking about? In a word, the Gospel! The promise of life--it's a phrase that catches up all the promises of the Gospel and is perhaps grandly summarized in the words eternal life. We could spend a lot of time here. But perhaps it would be best to close these thoughts by remembering Paul's words to the Roman Christians, written some years before, when he said this about the faith of Abraham:
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.That was Abraham. That was Paul.